At a Glance – Review of Programme for New Government

Wed Jun 17 2020

Dear Member,

This week’s agreement on a draft Programme for Government between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party is a historic and important agreement in delivering political stability and certainty during this crisis period in Ireland.

Outlined below are some key and relevant measures which are likely to impact Broker Ireland members and are contained in the five-year plan which was finalised 128 days after Ireland’s General Election in February 2020.  The process to ratify the Programme for Government is currently seeking approval through the respective parliamentary party membership and is likely to lead to the election of An Taoiseach and his new cabinet by the end of June.

Once this programme is approved and implemented, we will update members accordingly.

Pensions

  • No increase in the pension age to 67 while a commission studies the measure.
  • Maintain the State pension and get rid of the need to sign on and actively seek work for those who retire at 65.
  • 65-year-olds who retire can receive an early retirement allowance at the same rate as jobseekers’ benefit without the need to sign on, partake in any activation measures or actively seek work.
  • Establish a Commission on Pensions to examine sustainability and eligibility issues with State pensions and the social insurance fund.

Auto-Enrolment

  • The new government will introduce a new auto-enrolment model. It will allow matching contributions to be made by both workers and employers and offer workers a range of retirement savings products.
  • The scheme will not be mandatory but will require the worker to opt out if they choose not to participate in it. It envisages a phased roll-out over a decade.
  • There is also a new departure planned for the State pension regime. Named the Total Contributions approach, it proposes to align a person’s contributory pension more closely with the contributions they make.
  • It will also allow people to increase their pension provision by making PRSI payments beyond pensionable age.

Tax

  • There will be no increases in income tax or USC rates.
  • The 3% USC surcharge applied to self-employed income “is unfair and proposals will be considered to ameliorate this over time as resources allow”.
  • In Budget 2021, there will be no change to income tax credits or bands. From Budget 2022 onwards, in the event that incomes are again rising as the economy recovers, credits and bands will be indexed linked to earnings.
  • It will Retain 12.5% corporation tax.

Business

  • Enact legislation for the roll out of the €2 billion credit guarantee scheme for businesses, which will support below market rate lending from banks to businesses.
  • Convene an SME and State Bodies Group to be chaired jointly by the ministers for finance and businesses.
  • Create a code of conduct between landlords and commercial tenants.
  • Commence a “high-level” review of the economy by the Department of the Taoiseach to identify which sectors have the greatest opportunity for growth.
  • Review the Companies Acts and make any necessary changes to simplify and improve receivership, examinership and liquidation laws in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Insurance

  • Continue to prioritise reform of the insurance sector.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Investment will prioritise the issue of Insurance reform.
  • Look to increase cooperation between Gardaí and the insurance industry in dealing with fraudulent cases.
  • Publish data on insurance fraud.
  • Create an office within government to encourage greater competition in the Irish insurance market.
  • PRSI may increase in the next few years, this would be given to increasing this charge to help pay for higher benefits and replenish the social insurance fund.
Economy
  • Publish a series of “immediate actions” to support the recovery of the economy following Covid-19.
  • This will set out a pathway for the future of the Temporary Wage Subsidy and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
  • On the day the 2021 Budget is released, the government will announce a “national economic plan” to chart a “longer-term, jobs-led recovery”.

Housing

  • Increase the number of social houses by more than 50,000 over five years, with an emphasis on new builds.
  • Help to Buy scheme for new properties and self-build properties will be retained and expanded.
  • The Rebuilding Ireland home loan will also be expanded, and the Mortgage to Rent scheme will be strengthened.

 

Kind Regards

 

Diarmuid Kelly 

CEO, Brokers Ireland